Pens Vs Comcast Flyers Grades
...The more they stay the same.
Even Strength Offense: C
They came out flying, just dominating the Flyers shift after shift and putting lots of shots on net. They scored an early goal when Niskanen blasted one past Sievegalov, but once they went up 2-0, the offense went totally dormant until the third period. They stopped skating, they started trying to be pretty. And I just don’t get it. The Flyers defensemen suck, so why you don’t just dump it and work them over all night once you’re ahead is beyond me. Anyway, the offense woke back up just in the nick of time, pressuring the Flyers in the third period. They got two goals from the third line to key the comeback. Kennedy (yes, OUR Kennedy) actually scored a goal on a rebound, then Sutter had a beautiful wraparound to briefly tie the game late.
Even Strength Defense: F
Speaking of things staying the same, this was last Spring all over again. Once the Flyers got their legs, the Pens were running around in their own end all night long. It seems like every other team in the league (well, except the Islanders, who aren’t a real NHL team anyway) can stop Philly’s offense. But not Dan Bylsma’s Penguins. The Pens were unable to systematically get the puck out of the zone. They were unable to clear the front of the net to prevent second, third, fourth, and even fifth (yes, the first goal) chances. It was just another total debacle.
Power Play: A
Two more power play goals for the Pens, and they dominated while up a man during most of the chances they had. Geno notched one early after having a likely goal wiped out by the old “inconclusive evidence” schtick perpetrated by the Comcast War Garage. Then they methodically picked apart the Flyers 5-on-3 to get the game close. The only down side was the 30 seconds of 5-on-3 they frittered away right after the first 5-on-3. But that’s a nitpick.
Penalty Kill: A-
The Pens actually did a pretty good job killing the Flyer power play. They allowed only one goal in over nine minutes of kill time. Thankfully, they didn’t allow too many real good chances, either.
I don’t know what was the worst thing about last night among these three:
Jack Adams starting his backup who hadn’t played in two weeks in a game of this magnitude.
The pathetic play of Tomas Vokoun.
The refusal of Jack Adams to yank him after any one of the terrible goals he allowed.
This was one of those games where you could tell (or at least most of US could tell) that Vokoun was simply not tracking the puck at all. He was not controlling the puck after a save. He was swimming on the ice continually. It was the Pens’ worst goaltending performance of the season, by far. Yet they refused to take him out. I just don’t get it. Baffling is all I can say.
I feel like giving an F just because it was Comcast they lost to. But they made the great comeback to tie the game, so that brings them up a little..
And now, the rest of the story…
I am going to deviate from the usual “lead with the players” format, for obvious reasons.
Lindy Ruff’s Penguin Predecessor (LRPP): F
Simply put, Peter Laviolette has his number. Lavy is able to make changes on the fly. I know it’s Regis, but several times he praised the Flyer coaches for adjusting during the game. Not once did he have any praise for what the idiots behind the Penguin bench were doing. It started with the odd decision to start Vokoun in an important game like this. You want to get him playing time after a long layoff, do it against the Panthers tomorrow. But once you start him, at least watch how he’s playing. That first goal was just a hot steaming mess that ended up with four Penguin skaters closer to the crease than Vokoun. That was clue number 1. The goal at the end of the second period or the one at the start of the third would have had any observant coach pulling the guy. But, no,we can’t pull him because the plan was to play him tonight and we are unable to adapt on the fly.
Then we have some classic coaching gone awry. On the faceoff after the Pens went up 2-0, Laviolette put out his top line. And LRPP counters with…his fourth line??? You gotta be kidding me. Don’t get me wrong, I like our fourth line guys. They do what they do very well. For a fourth line. They are the fourth line for a reason—they aren’t very good at hockey. And they are certainly no match for a top line. So why the hell do you put them out there in that situation? Is that not what you have the third line for? Sure enough, the Flyers’ top line went out there and changed the momentum of the game. Just idiotic coaching.
And we won’t even get into the lack of discipline they showed that allowed the Flyers to once again suck them into a chippy pond hockey game.
This game is just another fine example of why Ruff’s predecessor should have been fired after last year’s debacle.
He looked good offensively, but ended up a splendid -3 on the night. Oh, and shoot the damn puck instead of trying for the perfect pass every single time!!!
He was excellent. Well, except for the expected stupid penalty.
James Neal: A
Power play specialist.
Kris Letang: D
There’s a reason the PP looks better without him. He is an extremely talented but stupid player. He again took a retaliatory penalty and got called out by Brooks for it. Good on Brooks. If Letang cannot control his emotions, then the time is now to shop him.
Brandon Sutter: A
His line keyed the comeback. Not the Sid line. Not the Geno line. The Sutter line.
Beau Bennett: NRFPT
That’s Not Ready For Prime Time. He was totally invisible in this physical contest.
Dejan Kovacevic: F
He, Dejan, it was your bright idea that Vokoun needed more playing time.
So it’s NOT a penalty when someone crosschecks Geno in the back four times? And it’s not a penalty when Neal takes a stick to the face? Okay, then. Messrs Watson and Leggo. You continue making your own rules. And oh by the way, the Flyers’ first goal should not have counted, either. Letang closed his hand on the puck in the crease, which meant it should have been a penalty shot. The fact that they probably would have scored anyway is immaterial.
That game winning goal had a whole pile of stink on it. But so did most of the rest of Vokoun’s night.
A tie between Brayden Schenn and Sean Courturier. They continue the fine tradition of dirty Philly players.
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A guide to the game grades can be found here.